Whether it’s the first Father’s Day without your father or the first Christmas without your child, getting through the anniversary of a loss of a loved one can be significant.
Certainly, the anniversary may not be a day or may not even be during a season you feel like celebrating. You may even become depressed or feel a sense of deep disappointment because you’re not doing better emotionally since the loss.
You should know that responses to grief come in many forms and that grieving does not follow a schedule. There are ways, however, to make this time of grief an occasion for healing.
This anniversary may be the perfect time to do something to honor the memory of your loved one. Some simple ways to remember and commemorate the anniversary and the days surrounding it include composing a letter to your loved one to share your feelings and to tell him/her about the things that have occurred since his/her passing.
Another option might be to write a one-page story about your loved one’s life. You may also choose to make it a time to bring others together to share their memories of the departed, perhaps using this time to share photographs and create a memory album.
Don’t just use this as a time to honor the departed though, also honor yourself. Now, that doesn’t mean everything is just great and you’re doing just fine, but it does mean you can take the time to congratulate yourself for having come as far as you have.
You can also honor yourself by continuing to express yourself and your grief constructively. Begin by forgiving yourself. Moreover, admit to yourself that you did the best you could for your loved one, or even if you didn’t, seek a final, closing forgiveness from God, your loved one and yourself.
Most importantly, use the anniversary day to honor your memories. Don’t waste time dwelling on your time without your departed loved one; instead, express and cherish the time you had together. Create a memorial in your loved one’s honor. It could be something as grand as dedicating a garden or something as simple as planting a tree. Use the time to commemorate the essence of the person.
Honor this anniversary period of time as a rite of passage, giving you the right to pass on to a new stage in your grieving and healing. Celebration isn’t only about joy, but it’s also about observing, paying attention, noticing.
So, go ahead and celebrate the life of a loved one who meant and continues to mean so much to you.
Michael Fowler is the Dougherty County coroner.